And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. – Exodus 25:8
God showed Moses the detailed, intricate designs of the tabernacle and all the instruments of worship that were to occupy the tent. Moses received clear instruction to make everything according to the design God revealed to him. Then when God was ready for the tent of meeting to be made, He told Moses to have the people make Him a sanctuary where God could dwell among them.
Several passages come to mind today as I read this piece. The psalmist wrote much later in time that unless God builds the house, those that labor do so in vain. Another passage is the one that says that Jesus would have the name, Emmanuel, God with us. Then there is the one from Paul that tells us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. These all point to one thing: God dwells among His people in the manner of His choosing. In the beginning, He dwelled in the tabernacle above the mercy seat and continued to do so over time in the temple(s).
The problem with the tabernacle and temple was that God was unapproachable because of the sins of mankind. He would speak to His people through prophets and kings and others, but no one could enjoy the personal relationship man once had prior to sin entering the world. Then, in God’s timing, He sent Jesus (Emmanuel) to dwell among His people and to serve as the ultimate sacrifice, which would pardon the sins of those who receive God’s gift of grace through faith.
When God established the tabernacle, He consumed the dedication sacrifice with fire from heaven. The same thing happened at Solomon’s dedication of the temple as God’s dwelling place. Finally, God sent cloven tongues of fire to rest on the heads of the 120 in the upper room on Pentecost, which signified God’s acceptance of the human spirit as His dwelling place on earth. The consuming fire of God served as proof of His acceptance. He chose to dwell there because the dwelling had been purified and made holy. He now dwells in the hearts of men and sends His Spirit to ALL who believe not just an occasional few as He’d done in times past.
I’m also reminded of the passage that speaks of who can build God a place to house him? He is greater than the entire expanse of the universe because He is the Creator. He made the universe. Nothing can house him. No one has the power to build God a dwelling place. Thus, God chooses when and where He dwells. Thankfully, He’s chosen to dwell in our hearts IF we accept His salvation by His grace through the faith He gives us. Truly, those that build the house on their own labor in vain UNLESS God builds the house. (Kind of oxymoronic, no?!? That’s the beauty of God! Having thoughts and ways higher and greater than our own!)
Father, we humble ourselves before You today and thank You for choosing to build Your home in us. From the day we are born again, You send Your Spirit to take up residence in us, earthen vessels that without You would be fit for nothing but tossing in the scrap heap. Through Your divine will, we have a permanent home and eternal existence with You. We offer ourselves as Your abode here on the earth. You are making us into a house of God one human brick at a time. Truly, You are building the house, and those of us who labor in this endeavor are not working in vain. Your will be done, not ours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.